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Momentous Mountains:
The Artistic, Philosophical and Cultural Engagement with Chinese Landscape Painting

28 Feb 2024 - 2 Jun 2024
1/F & 2/F, Fung Ping Shan Building, UMAG, HKU, 90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

The exhibition Momentous Mountains: The Artistic, Philosophical and Cultural Engagement with Chinese Landscape Painting invites visitors to immerse themselves in the captivating world of Chinese landscape paintings from the collection of the University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG), The University of Hong Kong. This series of paintings spans from the early Qing dynasty (17th century) to contemporary times. The represented artists come from diverse backgrounds and employ various approaches. They attest to the interdisciplinary nature and cross-cultural aspect of the genre, reflecting the influence of different schools, painting traditions and regional styles. The exhibition presents the depth and virtuosity of the development of Chinese landscape paintings, extending from the orthodox Four Wang masters of the early Qing, the Nanjing School, the Jiangxi School and the Shanghai School of Chinese paintings. Rarely displayed in public, the paintings include iconic works by renowned 20th-century masters and influential art educators—such as Liu Haisu (1896-1994), Fang Zhaoling (1914–2006), Wan Qingli (1945–2017) and Wesley Tongson (1957-2012)—and other outstanding contemporary artists who trained in the leading Eastern and Western art academies.

This exhibition explores and reconsiders the profound connections between humans and the natural world, a theme central to Chinese artistic inquiry. Through their art, generations of Chinese landscape painters have sensitively and authentically conveyed their perceptions of locations, sites and landforms, providing viewers with insight into the connections between humans, places and spaces.

The innate desire to explore, seek new horizons and reshape one’s perception of nature satisfies the human urge to exert dominance over the natural world, while simultaneously remaining conscious and conscientious of nature’s profound influence on humanity.  The exhibition invites viewers to engage with and appreciate the enchanting charm and profound depths of expression. Join us on a journey of discovery, where the delight and philosophy of mountains come alive through the brushstrokes of these talented landscape artists.

The collection of Chinese landscape paintings constitutes the foundation of UMAG’s educational work. Since establishing the collection and making it publicly accessible in the 1950s, UMAG has been closely connected to the development of twentieth-century Chinese painters and has actively documented and studied the evolution of local artistic talents and the Hong Kong art scene. We would like to thank our community of donors—both artists and collectors—for their generosity and for being part of this fascinating journey. Finally, this exhibition would not have been possible without the financial support of the HKU Museum Society and HKU’s Endowment for Music and Fine Arts Fund.

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